[Advaita-l] Questions on Mayavada by Krishna

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Thu Oct 7 00:00:45 CDT 2010

On Sat, 2 Oct 2010, Rajaram Venkataramani wrote:

> Krishna,
> For the Padma Purana verses quoted by you (mayavadam asat sastram), no
> advaita acharya has given any refutation.

There is little point in refuting schoolyard taunts.

> When I asked the question, the scholars on this forum dismissed this 
> verseoff as an interpolation. It is not possible to call it a gaudiya 
> interpolation because even before gaudiyas other sampradayas refer to 
> prachanna bauddham and rudra sampandham of sankara based on this verse.

It is probably a Madhvite interpolation taken up by the Gaudiyas when they 
began aligning with that sampradaya.  When is the earliest citation of 
those shlokas do you know?

> There are four recensions of Padma Purana extant today. I have not been 
> able to check the manuscripts personally but learn that all of them 
> contain Uttara Khanda where this occurs.

On the other hand there are many earlier scholars who quote Padmapurana 
but not these shlokas even when it would be to their advantage to do so. 
There is a fairly ancient Jain version of Padmapurana which does not 
mention these shlokas.  (And Jains have just as much reason to be 
anti-Advaita as Vaishnavas do.)  But the biggest reason to suspect an 
interpolation is that surely Bhagavan Vedavyas had a better grasp of 
Vedantic concepts then the pitiful caricature being passed under His name.

> Leave this verse alone. The fundamental question is, "Is Lord's name, form,
> qualities and lila absolute or relative?". It is a fundamental question
> because you need to know as a devotee if you are attracted to relative or
> absolute truth when worshipping Rama.

Why?  As the celebrated rope-snake analogy shows, a relative truth can 
have absolute effects.

> According to gaudiyas, there is no
> difference between the Lord and His body (abhinjnatva nama namine). Devoted
> advaitins such as Madhusudana Saraswati also state that there is no
> difference between the Lord and His body. (Rf. Sri Madhusudana's commentary
> on ajo api san).

The reference is to Gita 4.6.

ajo.api sannavyayAtmA bhUtAnAmIshvaro.api san.h |
prakR^itiM svAmadhishhThAya saMbhavaamyAtmamAyayA ||6||

"Though I am unborn and eternally knowing and the Lord of all beings yet
as My nature is under My control, I take birth by My own Maya."

Who took birth?  Krishna the son of Vasudeva and Devaki.  Shankaracharya 
notes that unlike the births and deaths of other living things, this birth 
and death is not the result of ignorance due to false identification with 
ahamkara.  So if this is meant by "there is no difference between the Lord 
and His body" then there is no objection from the Advaita side.  Just as 
Ishvara created the worlds, He is certainly capable of creating the rupa 
of Krishna.  But just as the entire universe to its furthest limits is 
only a part (amsha) of Brahman, the form of Krishna is an amsha of 
Brahman.  From the introduction to Gitabhashya: AdikartA nArAyaNAkhyo 
viShNu.h bhaumasya brahmaNo brAhmanatvasya rakShANArthaM devakyaM 
vasudevAd aMshena kR^iShNA.h kila saMbabhuva "The primordial creator 
Narayana known as Vishnu in order to protect the Brahmanahood of the 
Brahmanas on earth made a part of Himself take birth in Devaki from 
Vasudeva."  Is Krshna Bhagavan a part of Brahman or wholly Brahman?  I 
belive is where Advaitins and (some?) Vaishnavas part company.

Now did Swami Madhusudan Sarasvati believe in the first view or the 

> Visvanath Chakravarthy Thakur, a gaudiya acharya, quotes
> Sri Madhusudana respectfully in his commentary to the same verse.

If you read what he wrote in the Gudarthadipika itself it is quite clear 
that his view is not different from Shankaracharya.

> Sridhara Swamin, claimed by advaitins and Vaishnavas both as their own, 
> also considers the body of the Lord is non-different from His soul.

His Subodhini tika on this shloka also agrees with the description given 
by Shankaracharya.

> Though there
> are such statements, the traditional advaita position is that  Isvara's
> name, form, qualities and lila are mithya or products of maya.

Yes.  As Bhagavan Himself says.

> On
> liberation, there is no maya or its effects such as Isvara's form and
> activities


> no devotion.

Hold on!  Now you are leaping too far.  Why should the above mean there is 
no devotion?  Maya does not simply disappear to be replaced by a uniform 
grey void when jnana is attained.  All that it means is that one is freed 
from limitations and sees things for what they really are.

> This is why gaudiyas call them mayavadins though
> advaitins call themselves brahmavadins. Yes, advaitins realize brahmanandam
> (by Isvaranugraha!!!). But gaudiyas are more interested in relishing the
> nama, rupa, guna and lila than relishing ananda bereft of Isvara's
> attributes.

The error is in seeing jnana as a negative subtractive process.  Rather 
jnana is as I mentioned freedom from limitations.  The bhakta can 
certainly continue feeling ananda in the form of Ishvara, the difference 
is his concept of Ishvara is not restricted.  He will see Ishvara in 

> Advaitins consider devotion to be relative transecended on realization of
> nameless, formless, attributeless, actionless nirguna brahman.

Bheda has to be transcended.  It is certainly possible for there to be 
abheda bhakti too.

> It is
> interesting that Madhusudana Saraswati says that a jivan mukta is Vishnu
> bhakta and so does Vidyaranya. Sadasiva Brahmendral, considered a jivan
> mukta, sang chaste verses glorifying Rama, Krishna and Nirguna Brahman. But
> the advaita position is that this bhakti in a jivan mukta is residual effect
> of prarabda. Madusudana talks about samyama or a practice that removes karma
> vasana but he himself did not let go of his deovtion to Krishna!!! Which
> sane person would? Madhusudana distinguishes karma and bhakti, which is
> perhaps why he did not get rid of bhakti.

Or perhaps because it is not bhakti that has to be gotten rid of but 
duality.  Incidently as great a Krshnabhakta as he was, he also wrote a 
tika on the Shivamahimnastotra which extols Shiva Bhagavan in the highest 
possible terms.  His love was unbounded.  That's the difference between an 
Advaitin bhakta and the other kinds.

>  He also describes three stages of
> devotion. At the first stage a devotee thinks I am His (santa, dasya,
> sakhya). In the second stage he realizes He is mine (sakhya, vatsalya,
> madhurya) and in the final stage realizes I am He (madhurya). It is not that
> "dualists" do not accept this stage of devotion in oneness. Baladev, a
> gaudiya acharya, comments on a devotee realizing oneness (gopalaham). Rupa
> Gosvami, another gaudiya acharya, talks about realization of nirguna
> brahman.

Philosophically Gaudiyas are a mess.  Some do approach Advaita tenets. 
Some claim to be aligned with Madhva and some strike their own eccentric 
path.  Best to ignore their philosophical arguments altogether in my 
opinion.  If they can inspire the feeling of Bhakti in you that's all well 
and good.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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